LEARNING THE ROPES: HOW TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL SUBSTANCE ABUSE SOCIAL WORKER

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Social work is a broad profession that offers its professionals a wide range of opportunities to impact people’s lives positively.

These professionals assist individuals and the entire community in living the best quality of life. In addition, these professionals identify social and environmental issues and become the voice of affected people or communities. Simply put, these workers are responsible for helping people suffering from hardships, suffering, or any injustice.

Unfortunately, the problems social workers address are way too extensive. No matter how much knowledge or experience they might have, one individual can’t understand issues of all areas and provide solutions. For this reason, professionals in this field specialize in specific areas to gain expertise and serve the relevant population. Therefore, social workers may specialize in different fields, including criminal justice, psychiatric, military, mental health, and substance abuse, etc. Among these specializations, one of the most prominent is substance abuse social work.

Substance abuse refers to the consumption of illegal drugs or prescribed drugs wrongly and excessively that harm human health. Furthermore, after the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are suffering from mental health issues. As a result, more and more people get inclined towards substance abuse to relieve their stress. Thus, it gives all the more reasons for social workers to pursue their specialization in substance abuse.

Do you wish to help people suffering from substance abuse and want to play your part in their recovery process? Then, pursuing a career as a substance abuse social worker might be a perfect choice. As a professional, you will work with individuals or communities suffering from addiction problems and offer treatment plans to overcome addiction.

Read on below the comprehensive guide that helps you step on the road to becoming a substance abuse social worker:

EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS

Below is the step-wise guide that can help you become a substance abuse expert:

  • Start your career by earning a Bachelor’s in Social Work or any other related field. However, with a bachelor’s degree, you have limited job options. You can only get entry-level jobs.
  • Most areas require a Master’s in Social Work (MSW) degree from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE).
  • If you wish to perform clinical duties without any supervision, you need to obtain a license. Be mindful; licensure requirements may vary from state to state. However, you can’t apply for a permit without earning your master’s degree and completing a period of supervised practice.

JOB DUTIES

Let’s face it; individuals with substance abuse problems have already destroyed their lives by making bad decisions. So, as a professional substance abuse social worker, you are not only helping them overcome addiction problems. Instead, you also need to help them get their lives in order. Thus, each day in a substance abuse social workers’ life is different since they will deal with people from different walks of life.

The typical job responsibilities of a substance abuse social worker may include:

  • Meet and interview clients and their loved ones to determine their mental and physical health
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to develop a treatment plan suitable to clients’ needs
  • Assess and record clients’ progress based on the treatment plan
  • Offer counseling to loved ones to help them understand how to deal with the patient
  • Refer a patient or their loved ones to community resources to help them recover from physical and mental illness
  • Reevaluate patient’s condition and modify the treatment plan accordingly
  • Create and conduct programs educating the patients and community people about mental health, substance abuse, etc.
  • Oversee other social workers providing care to the patient

ESSENTIAL SKILLS

There is no denying that not every individual can pursue a career as a substance abuse social worker. However, since the field is demanding, many employers look for various personal skills and attributes while hiring.

Below is the list of essential skills every potential substance abuse social worker must possess to deliver the best quality service to their patients:

  • Excellent communication – You must listen attentively to your clients without interrupting them. The more attentively you listen, the more chances you gain a better understanding of your patient
  • Critical thinking – you must analyze information unbiasedly and formulate a treatment plan intelligently and creatively.
  • Emotional resilience – Dealing with substance abuse addicts can be stressful and overwhelming. Thus, to survive at your job, you need to be emotionally resilient so you can save yourself from burnout and offer the best quality service.

Furthermore, some other skills that substance abuse social workers must have include integrity, compassion, decisiveness, patience, and organizational skills.

SALARY POTENTIAL AND WORK ENVIRONMENTS

You might be wondering where you can find employment as a substance abuse social worker. The good news is social workers in this field can work in various settings where people are most likely to suffer from substance abuse issues. Typical work settings include substance abuse recovery facilities, schools, psychiatric hospitals, medical hospitals, mental health clinics, private practice, etc.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for social workers would grow by 12% from 2020 to 2030.

Whereas there are 116,780 employments for substance abuse social workers as of 2020, earning a mean annual wage of $54,540.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

No wonder people that start abusing substances can suffer from physical and mental health issues. Due to its effects, many people find it challenging to give up their addiction and live a clean life. That is why substance abuse social workers play their part in making the recovery process much more manageable. With their extensive knowledge and expertise, they can assess the needs of their clients. Hence offer the right services necessary to overcome substance abuse addiction. Moreover, dealing with substance abuse addicts is not easy. However, the pleasure you get after saving your clients’ lives from destruction is much more gratifying.

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